Tip Tipton IDFAE. Linwood Tipton, the former president of the International Dairy Foods Association, died on Oct. 12 at age 78.

Known to all as Tip, Mr. Tipton was the president and CEO of the Milk Industry Foundation and the International Ice Cream Manufacturers Association. In 1990, he pulled together the Milk Industry Foundation, the National Cheese Institute, and the International Ice Cream Association to form the IDFA.

He told Dairy Field magazine (later acquired by and merged into Dairy Foods) that his favorite dairy foods were pralines and cream ice cream, blue cheese, cottage cheese and chocolate milk.

Mr. Tipton retired from IDFA in 2003 and was succeeded as president and CEO by his wife, Connie, who continues to run the association.

Mr. Tipton was born on Nov. 19, 1934 in Adrian, Mo. He grew up on his family's farm, where he developed an interest in agriculture. He owned a horse named Trigger (after Roy Roger's mount). In grade school, he caught live rabbits for a laboratory testing company and rode his horse from trap to trap. As a young man, he spent two summers picking up milk cans at dairy farms, driving them to a processing plant in Kansas City and unloading them. "It was hard work," he told the magazine.

Tip Tipton IDFA
Tip Tipton (right) with Lou Gentine, chairman of the National Cheese Institute and Don Combs, president and CEO of Chr. Hansen in October 2003.

He attended the University of Missouri where he earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture and a master's degree in economics. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Army Finance Corp, Mr. Tipton returned to the dairy industry. He worked as an economist for a milk producers cooperative in the Northeast during the 1960s, and led a Boston-based economic consulting service, according to Dairy Field.

In 1965, he joined the milk and ice cream associations and became president and CEO in 1987. He was a co-founder in 1967 of the Petlin hotel/motel and restaurant chain, which grew to more than 30 properties. He served as chairman of the board and CEO until its sale in 2000.

Tip Tipton created the modern IDFA

According to a tribute on the U.S. Senate floor by Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2003 (when Mr. Tipton retired from IDFA), "Tip led the way in the creation of the extremely successful Milk Mustache and Got Milk? marketing campaigns. His knowledge of the dairy industry and the economy has encouraged Secretaries of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representatives of both political parties to seek his counsel."

The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) was implemented in 1993. It was not immediately popular with all milk processors who made up some of the membership of IDFA. "It was the only time I thought I might get fired," Tipton recalled in a 2003 interview.

"The fact that we have a MilkPEP program and a vision that milk can be more than a white gallon commodity is largely due to Tip's industry vision and hard work," Connie Tipton said in 2003. "One of the most successful promotion campaigns that has ever existed, the milk mustache campaign is the result of Tip's vision that there could be more."

A party both Democrats and Republicans could love

Other achievements during his tenure at IDFA include the creation of the annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party (1983), promoting the idea of a National Ice Cream Day and National Ice Cream Month (formally declared by President Reagan in 1984), the establishment of the annual Dairy Forum (1985) and the creation of the International Dairy Show (1988)

President Reagan in 1984 appointed Mr. Tipton to the National Commission on Agricultural Trade and Export Policy. Besides his work in the dairy industry, Mr. Tipton founded the International Sweetener Colloquium in 1981 so sugar and sweetener-using industries could assemble and discuss sugar policy.

Mr. Tipton served on the board of Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods, Russia's largest dairy, juice, water and food company (later acquired by PepsiCo). He was a past president and chairman of the board of the National Economists Club and the National Economic Education Foundation. He was active in the Washington, D.C., community by serving on the Main Street' restoration project's board of directors.

Contributions in Mr. Tipton's name may be made to the Dairy Recognition and Education Foundation, which provides financial assistance for graduate students in dairy science or a related field. Visit www.dairyfund.org for details.